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COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING

By Ramn Sols Cruz Through the history, the processes and techniques used in class have changed due to the changes in the ESL environment. There have been approaches and language teaching principles. One of the most used all over the world is the Communicative Language Teaching. It has been claimed to develop students communicative abilities inside and outside the classroom. Though, there are some authors that claim there are some disadvantages by using this method. This paper will deal with some of the history of this method, the main characteristics and possible drawbacks and benefits of it. It is well known that from the late 1960s there was a revolutionary movement in Europe related to language teaching. According to Larson Freeman (2000), educators start to question themselves if the goal of learning to communicate was reached with the methodologies used in those times. It is mention that even though the students have somehow a linguistic competence dominated there were still problems to transmit their ideas in a communicative environment. Then, linguistics came out with a set of believes that they named as Communicative approach. As it is mentioned by Harmer (1991), the communicative approach states that language is not learned only by focusing on abstract aspects such as grammar and vocabulary but also by taking into consideration sociolinguistic aspects and specific functions of the language like requests. Communicative Language Teaching is thus, a teaching methodology whose purpose is to develop in the students an advanced degree of communicative competence. This is closely linked with the difference established by Richards and Rodgers (1986) between acquisition and learning. They state that acquisition is an unconscious development of the target language as a result of real communication. Learning, on the other hand, is claimed to be an artificial process which results from formal instruction. Communicative Language Teaching is based in some principles which establish the behavior of teachers and students. The teacher is claimed to assume the role of facilitator, a mediator who facilitate situations likely to promote communication. The role of the student

is that of a negotiator, someone who interacts with the rest of the classmates and the teacher. It might be complicated to use Communicative Language Teaching in class because of many factors. One of them is the use of realia and authentic materials. In a ESL environment this likely to be easier than in a EFL. As it has been established, Communicative Language Teaching tries to use the target language as a means of communication, so the adaptation of real-world material can help to develop that competence. However, the availability of this kind of materials may be difficult in some cases. It is also claimed that this method seems to be disadvantageous to non-native English teachers due to the variability of the language. Since the main purpose is to develop communicative competence, generalized aspects such as grammar are less focused and it might make non-native teachers feel unsure of their proficiency, especially to slang terms and idioms. However, there are some proves that native and non-native teachers adapt their own characteristics to this method, so that they can get a full advantage from it. As a conclusion, it is true that this method is one of the most used around the world due to the needs analysis carried out in the 1960s which established the need for a more interactive teaching method. It is based in the principle of communicative competence over linguistic competence and, although it has some criticism from many authors, the advantages cannot be ignored.

References Harmer, J. (1991). The Practice of English Language Teaching. London: Pearson Education. Larson-Freeman, D. (2000). Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching. Oxford: OUP. Richards J. & Rodgers, T. (1986). Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching. Cambridge: OUP.